ceWe’ve seen the hands of our alien invaders on the poster for Steve Spielberg’s experiment in quickie cinema, War of the Worlds. Now we may be seeing their foliage.

Al Sullivan’s blog has pictures of red Martian weed (whether it’s better to smoke than Hobbit pipeweed is as of now unknown), as well as a pretty good examination of what place the stuff has in the film and the book:

As the aliens spread over the surface of the earth, so does this insidious vegetation, hinting of the Martian desire to remove all traces of previous life from the planet’s surface. While Speilberg’s film characters may not say so in so many works, the gradual advance of the plants, their appearance in scenes symbolizes the touch of an alien presence. The slithering plants in fact strongly resemble the description Wells gave of the aliens themselves as well as the film’s logo that depicts an alien’s tentacle-like fingers gripping the planet earth. The blood-red vegetation may also be intended to strike at the subconscious of the film-goer, adding to film’s impact – a constant alien fingerprint designed to tell everyone that the aliens had been to this place or that.

Spielberg, who seems to deal with strong symbolic imagery in his story-telling, reached back into the roots of his story in depicting scenes of red week’s spread. In fact, during the shoot in Howell Township, New Jersey, Spielberg’s crews not only created the red weed, but also the swamp out of which it emerged.

Wells, however, fully described red weed for Spielberg during a section of the novel in which the hero of the book is trapped in a house right along side one of the alien landing pits, from which many of the descriptions of the aliens and their way of life are depicted – and in the case of the red weed as well as other symbolic representations may well offer clues as to what we can expect to see when the film is released in June 2005.

"Apparently, the vegetable kingdom on Mars instead of having green for a dominant color is of a vivid blood red tint," Wells wrote. "At any rate, the seeds which Martians (intentionally or accidentally [sic]) brought with them gave rise in all cases to red colored growths. Only that – known popularly-as red weed, however, gained any footing in the competition with terrestrial forms."